Wetlands are so fundamentally important on the landscape that the federal government and State of Ohio require compensation for impacts, whether accidental or purposeful, to these critical ecosystems. Mitigation wetlands are one of the keys to upholding the federal "no net loss" policy for wetlands. By creating wetlands to replace impacted systems, we work to maintain the acreage and function of displaced ecosystems.
Wetland science evolves, often leading us away from the how-it's-always-been-done approach, and toward something new that fits contemporary dynamics of environment, economy, and society. Such was the case when ODOT approached Hull about developing an alternative method for assessing mitigation wetlands.
Current assessment procedures provide glimpses into wetland conditions; but wetlands develop over time, and their functional value can't be defined solely by the plant and animal communities they support.
We decided to build on that sentiment, and have created an assessment method that looks at the entire suite of wetland functions, rather than just acreage or biodiversity. We've constructed a set of scoreable metrics that we use to infer the probability of a wetland performing hydrological, water quality, biodiversity, and societal functions.
Our proposed method isn't unprecedented. In fact, it's built on a foundation of functional assessment methods from the federal government and multiple states around the nation. As a state with incredible wetland resources, Ohio is poised to be a leader in the area of wetland functional assessment.
So far, the response from the regulated community has been great. Many are interested in innovative approaches that judge mitigation success across a range of functions. Field trials have gone well, and we're getting input from experienced wetland scientists. We're getting there...in the direction the science leads us.
If you're interested in learning more about the Ohio Mitigation Wetlands Assessment Method (OMWAM) please reach out to us. We're eager to hear from you.